San Francisco. photo courtesy of gravitywave

Dear readers, apologies for being absent lately but unfortunately, I’ll be absent a bit longer. I’m headed to San Francisco, and will be gone until next week. If anything happens while I’m away, please do email me about it. See you next week.

Holiday display, courtesy of WBUR (Flickr)

Hope each one of you has a great long weekend, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, enjoys spending time with family and friends and relaxing in front of the fire, dashing through the snow, etc. I will be in the Boston area through Wednesday, so while I will continue to post if I see anything newsworthy – I won’t be on the streets able to report about what’s happening. If you see or hear of something that sounds like post-worthy – shoot me an email at ustreetgirl AT gmail DOT com.

And Happy Holidays again!

Happy Birthday (courtesy of Rob J Brooks, Flickr)

Happy Birthday (courtesy of Rob J Brooks, Flickr)

U Street Girl turns two today. I certainly can’t believe it. This last year has been quite a whirlwind for me personally, and for my blog.

A lot has happened on the blog in the past year. Remember when I was threatened with a lawsuit? That was fun. Beyond the scary parts: it actually was pretty wonderful. You guys really backed me up on that and it gave me strength. I was profiled in the Washingtonian, which was awesome. I also stopped blogging anonymously, which was pretty great.

In the last year, I’ve written 232 posts, received 585 comments, and had over 150,000 views (that’s about 3 times the amount of views I had during my first year).

In the next year, I hope to perhaps get some different contributors beyond just me (I’m a bit busy over here). If you’re interested in perhaps writing a feature for my blog – send me an email at ustreetgirl AT gmail DOT com. I’m pretty picky, so tell me what you could add to the blog and send me a writing sample or two.

And Happy Blogiversary to U Street Girl.

My name is Catherine Finn, and I write U Street Girl. For the last year and 1o months, I’ve blogged anonymously. If you emailed me, you would have found out my first name. That’s all I was willing to reveal. But, a lot of things have changed.

First, I have a new job that doesn’t require me to hide my identity. Woo hoo for that! Further than that, it’s something I really want to do and am interested in. I really couldn’t be more excited.

Second, I’ve been offered two compelling freelance gigs that I’ve decided to accept, and do so under my real name. You might have noticed posts from me on DCist this weekend; I’ll be one of the weekend editors. You will also be able to read a monthly column that I’ll be writing in MidCity DC (a community paper that is a member of the Hill Rag family) about what’s happening around 14th and U.

So, hello, here I am. My name is Catherine Finn and I’m no longer blogging anonymously.

This morning, TBD, a new venture in local news, launched. What is TBD? TBD is a local news network with TV and an online presence. They are using new media in a wonderful way, writing their own stories, linking to others, and creating a dialogue about the area. As they say, “Our goal is to create a comprehensive guide to local news and entertainment, delivered on multiple platforms, for anyone interested in what’s happening in the region.”

U Street Girl is proud to announce that the blog is a member of their local blog network. It wasn’t a secret before, but now that they’ve officially launched I wanted to let you readers know. This doesn’t mean really any change for readers of U Street Girl, but rather that TBD readers will often be directed to my blog if I’m a part of their local coverage or I write something that is of interest to DC as a whole.

I’m really excited about TBD as someone interested in media, and glad to be a part of their network. I wish them the best of success. Go check out their website today!

When I started blogging, I aspired one day to be featured in something like Washingtonian’s Blogger Beat. So imagine my excitement when Emily Leaman got in touch with me a few weeks ago to interview me for the feature. Check out my interview with Emily, learn a bit more about me and my opinions of all things U street. And thanks so much to Emily for getting in touch and Chris for taking a great, anonymous photo for me.

Tonight, I removed a comment on my post “Du Vin Osteria coming to 14th and Florida” because the owner of Du Vin Osteria, David Shott, sent me an email requesting me to do so, because he found the comment libelous. He also stated he would take legal action if necessary.

It is with regret that I write this post and removed the comment. I wish Mr. Shott had come to me in a more friendly manner and had not immediately written the words “legal action” to a young professional who blogs on her spare time. I was trying to promote Mr. Shott’s business. I posted the comment because it seemed to raise relevant concerns about Mr. Shott.

It is also with regret that I will state this is the last time I will be talking about Du Vin Osteria or Mr. Shott on my blog. I will not promote or patronize his business and will recommend others do the same.

This whole incident has saddened me deeply. That one business owner decided to talk “legal action” to a blogger about something that she didn’t even write, I find beyond unnecessary. I am writing this post to state the facts of the matter, my feelings about it, and no more.

Happy Birthday (courtesy of Rob J Brooks, Flickr)

Happy Birthday! (courtesy of Rob J Brooks, Flickr)

Ah, so this day a year ago I wrote my first entry to my blog, pondering why I loved life on U street and why I wanted to blog about it. I’ve really enjoyed my entry into the blogging world. This blog has connected me to people in wonderful ways, I’m always amazed at what opportunities the Internet has opened up for me. From people offering to help me find a job when I lost mine last year (nearly a year ago now too and thankfully, nearly a year ago I found my current one), to connecting with local business owners, artists, and bloggers, to being well-known enough to be recognized in the area.

In the past year, I’ve posted 273 times (including this post), had 384 comments, and had over 57,000 viewers (no, Mom, I don’t think they were all just you).

Now, as my readership continues to grow (hi new readers!) I’m going to continue to build my blog so that there will be more utility for both me and the readers. That means, starting to tweet (all of the cool kids seem to be doing it), please check it out, and follow me if you’re on Twitter too. Also, I’ll be utilizing my Flickr page more, and perhaps looking into hosting my own webpage instead of relying on WordPress. Please give me feedback on these new ventures and what you’d like to see. While I blog for myself, I certainly hope to make my blog more useful for readers as well.

I recently received a comment criticizing my acceptance of free stuff from local businesses. It was written in a troll-like manner (which I’ve said, in my previous post about my blog commenting policy, I wouldn’t post) but I wanted to address the idea of accepting free things in a post.

Whenever I’ve accepted something for free, I’ve said so, and I’ve noted my reservations about it in the post. But, look, unless you’re one of my friends or family members who reads this blog, you don’t know me. I don’t know you. All you have is my word, and the fact that you don’t personally know me. It’s the Internet.

I promise to always say when I accept something free. And honestly, if anything, when accepting something free, I have huge reservations and worry more and am even more careful about writing something up than when I paid.

I have a degree in journalism (and English). Oh, but you can only take me on my word about that too, it’s the Internet and you don’t know me. The point is, I am fully aware of the ethical duties that come with accepting free services when one is a journalist. But, I’m not a journalist nor am I trying to be one. I’m a blogger. I will tell you what I think, I’m not impartial and I’m not trying to be.

My feeling is, as long as I disclose that I accept something free, and you take that for whatever it means, (whether it be that I had more praise for X business because they gave me something free or whether I was even more measured in my praise/criticism because I accepted something free) I think we’re fine. And if you don’t agree, I think that’s fine too. It’s my blog, and this is how I feel about accepting free stuff.

Dear readers, I’ll be at the beach this weekend, and without Internet access for the most part (the boyfriend does have a Palm Pre but honestly, I’m not going to be checking it that much). I’ll be back on Tuesday, so if anything happens in the interim, I’m just going to have to miss it. I’m just hoping that tropical storm Danny doesn’t completely ruin my time on the sand.